Social Protection, Food Security, and Asset Formation
This article investigates if and how social protection programs impact food security outcomes and asset formation. The authors constructed and analyzed a new database of studies on these interventions, finding that social protection programs improve both the quantity and quality of food consumed by beneficiaries. The average social protection program increases the value of food consumed/expenditure by 13 percent and caloric acquisition by 8 percent, but with much variation, often related to baseline values. Food expenditure rises faster than caloric acquisition because households use transfers to improve the quality of their diet, most notably increasing their consumption of calories from animal source foods. The analysis also finds that social protection programs lead to increased asset holdings as measured by livestock, non-farm productive assets, farm productive assets, and savings.